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Reacting to what others say about us

When we're having a bad day at work, we can go take a walk outside and then come back. If we are jaded with our routine, we can take a vacation and get away from our routine for a week or two.

But, no matter where we go, we take our thoughts with us. And how we feel about something is influenced heavily by the thoughts in our head. While getting away physically helps to a certain extent, getting away mentally is what will really make the difference.

This is the basis of the concept of meditation, which focuses on disassociating ourselves from our thoughts and simply observe them as they float along. As the makers of Headspace say it, it is like sitting on the side of a highway and observing the cars pass by, without getting on the road ourselves, where each car represents a thought in our head.

This can be extended to another aspect that influences our mood and as a consequence, our thoughts, which is the things that people say about us. We are constantly in interaction with various people and the things they say to us, their gestures towards us and their actions that concern us are all things that affect the way we feel about ourselves, as well as what occupies our mindspace.

It is not uncommon to wonder why someone said the things they did to us, or why someone behaved the way they did towards us and be consumed by it, resulting in a drop in our energy levels and our enthusiasm.

What meditation recommends we do with our thoughts is something we ought to learn to do with the things that others say to us (through words, gestures as well as actions) as well. If we observe them come and go and not associate ourselves with them, if we merely observe them from an outsider's perspective rather than put ourselves at the centre of it all and let it consume our thoughts, we exercise greater control over what goes on in our heads.

And when we start doing that, we don't have to get away from anything in the first place.

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